"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

For My Daughter's Friend

The boy whose father died was not my son.
His father was not my friend, or lover or husband.
I didn’t know him.

I stare at the sparkling prisms on the chandeliers.
At the non-committal color of the walls.
Anywhere but at the face of the boy whose father died too soon.

I couldn’t stand to see my daughter in a casket.
Is it the only act I couldn’t undo?
When she was small, I told her I could accept anything as long as it was the Truth.
Death might be the Truth.
But it would not be a Truth I could easily accept.
And were death to come, I would want her to be somewhere. I realize this, sitting alone in the pew. I would need to be with her. I would need the confirmation of the body. It would make me crazy, but at least there would be no doubt as to the Truth.

Here, in this room, is a Father. Here is a casket. Here is a body. Here is a certain, resolute Truth.

The pastor makes remarks. It is all a pastor can do.
He’s talking about the other side.
The ship is moving away over the horizon.
We on the horizon line mourn the disappearance.
But those in the land where the sun is coming up stand joyfully and shout,
“Here it comes, here it comes.”
This, says the pastor, is Heaven. The father is the ship arriving. Everyone is joyful.
I am not convinced.

I look at the boy across the room, and love him.
I must. It is all I have to offer.
Maybe it will help him, as binding a wound begins the healing, once the nurse has arrived.
More likely, what he needs to survive this loss is a plunge deep into the immutable love of parent and child. Remembering.

This is the contract that cannot be broken.
This is the love that transcends time.
This is what the boy must fathom now, in his deepest grief.


  1. The boy knows the Truth, too well he knows it. Your caring helps, your touch, the friend your daughter is--friendship helps. Being with him in grief. Going to coffee but don't wait for him to call, she must do it. It is people who help us to walk through that incredibly lonesome valley. We have to walk it on our own, as the song says. But others can join the walk from time to time, hugs at church, phone calls, e-mails. Even people I don't particularly like have reached out to me with cards and words and greetings. Yes, the Truth is that that boy's father, that my dear husband is truly gone. Over the horizon where I will never see him, but Truth is also that people here are all we have. Send the boy a card, encourage your daughter to take him to coffee or to lunch. Maybe write a card to the boy's mother. We are all God's angels when we reach out.

  2. A thousand thanks for sharing your thoughts in this beautiful poem.